In our lives, we have the benefit of knowing many people, of having many experiences, of being in many places. From time-to-time, it is wonderful not only to recall good memories, but to also reconnect with those individuals from our past who made a difference. In fact, I challenge you, right now, to think about some of the most transformational experiences in your own life. Who were the players? What role did they play in your memory? Have you kept in touch? Whether you have or have not, have you told them how important they were – and still are – to you? Why not reach out?
Allow me to demonstrate with a few examples from a recent trip my family and I took a trip to Atlanta, Georgia…
The first experience was really the purpose of our trip. I was invited to serve as a speaker at the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, or BBYO, International Convention. BBYO is a global not-for-profit that caters to Jewish high school students by providing them with leadership, community service/social action, social and travel experiences, among other opportunities. More than 3,000 teenagers from around the world attended the event – my breakout session, on the topic of Networking (what else, right?), drew 70 participants (I was thrilled as only 50 were expected!). What set this particular event apart from others at which I have been a presenter was not only that it was targeted to 16-18 year olds… rather, it was that nearly 30 years prior, I attended my first BBYO Annual Convention! In fact, to this day, I credit many of my friendships around the world and my leadership know-how, to experiences I had as a “BBYOer.” It was amazing. And, frankly, I could not have anticipated how nostalgic I would be feeling when my friend, Cindy Bodker, recommended me as a speaker for the event several months ago. I’m so grateful for having had the opportunity to go back and sit on the proverbial other side of the table!
Next… In 1997, during my second year of business school, I, like all of my peers, was very focused on finding my dream job for after graduation. I had my sights set on going to work for Sprint Corporation which, at the time, had a wonderful executive development program. It was a grueling, lengthy interview process… thought they were ostensibly my “competition,” I remember bonding with the other candidates who were also applying for positions with Sprint. One of those candidates was my dear friend, Judy. Well, Judy and her family moved to Atlanta a few years ago to be closer to their relatives. What a treat it was while Marc, Ian and I were in Atlanta, to reconnect with Judy over coffee! Though we didn’t have much time together, it was a highlight for me of our journey south.
Finally, for those of you who know my husband, you know that one of the most formidable experiences of his life was his junior year abroad program when he as an undergraduate student at Denver University. He spent one semester with the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES Abroad) in Vienna, Austria, and another at London School of Economics. His closest buddies were two fellows – Vikram from India and Greg from New York. I’ve been hearing Vikram and Greg stories for 20 years. In fact, I had the chance to meet Greg about a year ago. And, then, miraculously, Marc learned Vikram was living in… where else? You guessed it… Atlanta! It turns out Vikram actually married, Lisa, one of their classmates from the Vienna program. Vikram, Lisa and their sons hosted Marc, Ian and me for a wonderful meal in their home while we were visiting. For hours, the three reminisced and told fabulous tales of their time together in Europe.
My family’s Atlanta trip provided so many opportunities to reengage with people and organizations in our lives that have, indeed, made a difference. This kind of opportunity may present itself any day of the week – whether in your home town or in a city you happen to be visiting. The important thing is to recognize these opportunities for encounter and to proactively take advantage of them when they arise. Don’t forget: Life is short. We should spend the time we have building meaningful relationships. I can tell you with certainty that as soon as we bid farewell to our friends in Atlanta, we were already thinking about when we can reconnect with them again. You should do the same. Think about people who have meant something to you… be sure to get in touch to reconnect. You – and they – will be so glad you did!